Wood Dale student one of 18 to win national scholarship

A high school student from Wood Dale is one of 18 nationwide to be awarded a scholarship for her mental health advocacy.

Alexandra Carillo of Fenton High School was recognized by the National Society of High School Scholars. The 18 Under 18 Award was established to recognize students who are passionate about their contributions to society and showcase their "contagious" leadership skills to the community through a video submission. Carillo was awarded a $1,000 scholarship for her video submission regarding mental health in teenagers.

Candidates for the scholarship were required to upload a video of up to three minutes, their academic resume, current transcripts and a letter of recommendation from an educator.

Carillo said she's overjoyed to receive the scholarship.

"I try to inspire everyone around me to shine," Carillo said in her video. "I use this confidence and vision to achieve my goals and will continue to use it throughout my life."

Carillo, born and raised in Wood Dale, prides herself on her academic accomplishments. The 16-year-old junior plans to become an anesthesiologist and hopes to enroll in the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore. She also is considering Duke University in Durham, North Carolina, and the University of Wisconsin - Madison.

To gain medical experience, Carillo hopes to volunteer at Edward-Elmhurst Hospital and will be attending a medical leadership conference at the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston.

Carillo said mental health and its effect on teenagers' lives is not taken seriously, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported suicide attempts by teenage girls rose by 51% in 2020 and also reported a 31% increase in hospital visits from children 12-17 for mental health purposes between April and October 2020.

"Getting help is very important at any age," Carillo said. "People often think that teenage depression is just moodiness but it's really important. When you don't take care of your mental health, you can't take care of anything else."

Carillo was taught the importance of mental health by her mother, a retired psychologist. As she has been diagnosed with anxiety, she finds solace in working toward her goals and being connected and close to her family.

Those wishing to seek scholarship opportunities can go to for details.

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